South America

Uber leads alliance against Brazil ride-sharing app ban

Mobility apps fight for survival in Brazil

In Brazil, Uber has joined forces with three other apps to mobilize drivers and users against a government ban on their services.

Mobility companies Cabify, 99, and Lady Driver have partnered with rival Uber to fight against a bill that would restrict ride-hailing services in Brazil. With thousands of users backing them up, the alliance is effectively pressuring the government to hear their plea.

The campaign they have put together is named Juntos Pela Mobilidade, “Together for Mobility”. In the joint campaign’s website, the risks of the bill becoming law are explained. Along with a list of senators that supporters of mobility apps can write to express their disagreement with the proposed changes.

Fabio Sabba, Communications Director for Uber Brazil, stated that “[the current draft of bill] PLC 28/2017 is no regulation attempt but a thinly-veiled ban.”

 

The companies have pooled resources and the support from their customer base to fight the possible ban, tilting the scales in their favor. Thanks to the campaign’s effective public outreach, over 825,000 Brazilians signed a petition to amend a bill that would have left the choice to ban, allow, or restrict the number of drivers in each Brazilian city.

The signatures, submitted on October 10, led to the bill to amend these and other provisions. Mobility app drivers would have been required to get public service plates for their cars, the kind used by taxis; and to own their cars, which would have banned most family-owned cars from these platforms.

A few provisions still stand after the massive public outcry – drivers still must register with municipal authorities and remain within city boundaries during the provision of ride-hailing services.

Taxi drivers vowed to continue fighting against the competitors. As the legal battle continues, some have taken matters into their own hands. On November 1st, as the Senate voted on the amends to the bill, Mr. Sabba was physically attacked, presumably by a taxi driver’s representative.

 

One battle at a time

This is a significant win for Uber, and the alliance is likely to remain in place until the legal status and requirements of mobility apps in Brazil are fully clarified.

After losing China to, and being bought by, competitor Didi Chuxing, Brazil represents for Uber a significant market to hold on to. Its legal status in other Latin America is still heavily debated: authorities and taxi drivers in other important markets like Colombia continue to see Uber and similar apps as a significant threat.

Despite being banned across several large US cities, the decision of London’s authorities not to renew their license to operate, and suspensions in several countries of mainland Europe, the mobility giant continues in the race to charm users worldwide.

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